C85: History of Psychology
Chapter 1: Psychology and History
STUDYING THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY
Historiography- the study of the variety of ways in which historians have written history.
Historiographers examine the variety of ways in which historians have written history.
The most influential modern history of psychology was written by Edwin G. Boring.
•Boring’s history ‘continues to dominate the historiography of psychology (with some
•His history concerned itself primarily with the growth of the scientific, experimental side of
psychology since the 19th c.
Person or Zeitgeist?
Boring recognized two approaches to history:
1. (PERSON) emphasized the role of the creative individual in moving history along; on this
account the history of psychology is primarily the stories of those outstanding people who have
contributed to it and changed it by doing so.
2. (ZEITGEIST) related to the cultural context within which it takes place. Aka “spirit of the times”; ‘prevailing
ideologies and/or the socioeconomic situation of the period’ play in shaping ideas.
Ixion’s Wheel or Jacob’s Ladder?
There are other constructs that have been used to represent historical processes.
The distinguished historian Frank Manuel called on such construct the progressive vs the cyclical.
Manual suggested that Ixion and Jacob be taken as personifications of this polarity.
•Ixion was a figure in ancient Greek mythology who was condemned to rotate forever on a
wheel of fire (cyclical).
•In the bible, Jacob dreamed that there was a ladder set up on earth and the top of it reached to
Psychology may not always get better and better; sometimes it is cyclical.
It is entirely possible that psychology both progressive and cyclical – ideas may keep getting rediscovered, but at
the same time those ideas may be understood in progressively more sophisticated ways.
The New History of Psychology
New history of psychology- the view that the science of psychology has been influenced by subjective as well as
objective factors Laurel Furomoto